Government decision to cut income support at Christmas is a cruel and damaging mistake

The Australian Council of Social Service says the Government’s decision to further cut income support at the end of the year is a cruel and damaging mistake that will come as a crushing blow to millions.

The Prime Minister has today announced the Coronavirus Supplement, received by people on JobSeeker, Youth Allowance and parenting payments, will be further cut, bringing it down to $75 per week from the end of the year to March 28.

ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie said:
“With this cut, the Government is almost taking us back to the brutal old, Newstart rate. The reduced rate from January to March is only $10 a day more than the old, unlivable Newstart rate, which had not been increased in real terms in more than a quarter of a century.

“Coming into effect at Christmas time, this cut is a cruel and damaging mistake, hurting people already doing it tough, including more than one million children in families receiving the Coronavirus Supplement.

“The end of the year is often the most expensive time for families and this Christmas is going to be a really hard one for millions, with record-high unemployment.

“There is currently only one job vacancy available for every 12 people without paid work or enough paid work, with even less in regional areas.

“Instead of short-term measures and cuts, we need a permanent, adequate rate of income support so that people can cover the basics and get the security they need to rebuild their lives.

“At the very least, this needs to be a $25 per day increase on the old, grossly inadequate Newstart rate, which would bring the payment into line with the age pension and above the poverty line.

“There’s widespread agreement that we must permanently and adequately increase the income support rate, with the CEO of the BCA reiterating their support for this on national radio this morning.

“The Government’s announcement today is out-of-touch with the reality of what people are going through and so are the Prime Minister’s comments about suspensions.

“With so many people who have never been on income support before having to deal with the harsh mutual obligation system, it’s particularly concerning that people are having their payments suspended.

“People’s payments can be suspended because they were 10 minutes late to a meeting or because they were unable to meet online requirements, regardless of their digital skills.

“To rebuild from this crisis people need security and support, not cuts and suspensions,” Dr Goldie said.